Wednesday, April 8, 2009
In Praise of…..
Today is a very special day in the Jewish calendar. First, it is the day before Pesach, one of the busiest days of the year. (And if you are wondering how I had time to blog today, I wrote this—or most of it—a week ago.) In addition, today is the day of “Birkas HaChamah” (see HERE),the “Blessing on the Sun”. Our tradition is that the sun was created on the fourth day of creation (ie., Wednesday). Our sages, many who were quite expert at astronomy, determined that the sun returns to the same exact place where it was at creation once in 28 years. When that date arrives, we bless G-D for the wonderful gift of the sun. So let’s take a bit of a look at this luminary. The sun accounts for 98-99% of the total mass in our solar system. It is about 400 times further away from us than the moon, light from the sun taking 8 minutes and 19 seconds to reach us. And this powerhouse of energy is what fuels life, movement, and warmth on the earth. The sun promotes the sugars for the growth of plants, as well as plankton. Plants and plankton form the basis for the entire food chain, and are, in addition, the original source for oils, coal, and the like. The amount of energy contained therein is staggering and probably beyond our ability to truly comprehend. Of course, the biggest miracle of the sun is the distance we are from this bomb of energy. Any further we would freeze; closer we would be fried to a crisp. So this orb of light, energy, and warmth is well worth thanking the Creator for. * * * *
I remember vividly last time we had “Birkas haChamah”. I was a young married lady; I had one son (who was too young to remember the event), and was due any day with my second son. The big fear was if the day would be so cloudy as to prevent saying the blessing, but as the sun peaked over the horizon, the sight was greeted by hundreds of people gathered next to the Ponevezh yeshiva, who had gathered specially to pray at the earliest time (sunrise), and afterwards make the blessing on the sun from the hilltop of the Talmudic institution. (In Jerusalem, people gathered at the Western Wall to pray and say the blessing.) I remember wondering then , 28 years ago, where would I be 28 years in the future. I envisioned myself as an “old lady” nearing 60. Well, I don’t FEEL old (though I admit to being slower…), and rather than dwelling on the fact that I am past the years of “babies”, I revel in the wonderful family that surrounds me. Now I am just hoping that I even make the next one, but I suspect that unless I get my weight down, it’s pretty unlikely. [And maybe with that sobering thought, I should get to work on my diet….] But I don’t mean this in a sad tone, but in the air that today I have a chance to grab a rare portion of what we call “life”. So I better say with conviction; it may well be my last chance for this mitzvah.